In addition to adding healthy food programs and sustainable building practices, hospitals are taking steps to eliminate the use of mercury-containing thermometers and PVCs in hospital equipment, reports the Alternative Health Journal. They are also phasing out incinerators that emit toxic dioxin and are working to eliminate volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
Facilities at the forefront of the movement include East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Lexington Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
As an example, the $160-million, 375,000-square-foot East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, in Greenville, N.C., has a number of eco-friendly features. These include the use of recycled materials — carpeting is made of 96 to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content; 79 percent of the ceiling tiles are made from recycled materials, and porcelain tile used in the bathrooms contain an average of 43 percent post-industrial recycled content.
In addition, the hospital’s utility plant features energy-efficient air conditioning chillers, high-efficiency electric motors, and variable-speed pumping and air flow systems. The facility was designed with features to provide a healthy environment for patients, family members, visitors and staff, said the health journal. A few of the features noted in the article include abundant natural light and patient control of the environment in his or her room.
Another hospital making sustainable changes is Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina. In April 2008, the medical center’s new office building achieved Silver LEED certification, according to Alternative Health Journal. During construction, more than 75 percent of the waste generated by the project was recycled, and materials used in the project were selected because of their high recycled content, and regional location of the suppliers to reduce emissions from transportation, reports the health journal.
Only about 2 percent of the more than 3,600 LEED-registered projects in the U.S. are health care buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, and most of them are smaller free-standing buildings, additions or renovations to existing facilities, rather than full medical centers, according to the health journal.